New Delhi: The four-day ‘Satyagrah’ by power sector employees against the Centre for pushing to amend the Electricity Act ended here at Parliament Street on Friday, with the employees’ union leading the protest decrying “atrocities” inflicted by the Delhi Police. It alleged that the police did not allow them to stage a peaceful demonstration at Jantar Mantar.
Power employees from across the country had given the call for a ‘Satyagrah’ against the contentious amendment to The Electricity Act, 2003, under the guidance of the National Coordination Committee of Electricity Employees & Engineers (NCCOEEE), an umbrella body of the electricity staff federations.
“The venue was surrounded by hundreds of Delhi Police personnel and Paramilitary forces today as well; the same happened on August 4 and 5. Electricity employees and engineers were not allowed to enter the venue. The police did not allow us to even stand on the road,” the NCCOEEE said in a statement on Friday.
It noted that in a meeting held between constituents of the umbrella group at BTR Bhawan on Friday – before they arrived at Jantar Mantar with banners and posters – the leaders “decried police atrocities.”
Prasanta N. Chowdhary, convenor of NCCOEEE told Newsclick on Friday that the electricity employees and engineers across the country would stage protest at their work sites on August 9 to condemn the “undemocratic behaviour” of the Delhi Police. The Delhi Police reports to the Union Home Ministry.
“Out of the four days, we employees were not allowed to stage protests for three days. Even on Friday, we could only carry out the programme on the side of the road at Parliament Street for not more than 25 minutes – after which we were asked to disperse,” Chowdhary said, calling it “brutal repression” by the Centre to “silence employees’ voices.”
The Narendra Modi-led Central Government has listed the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2021 to be introduced in Parliament during the ongoing Monsoon session. What electricity employees fear about the contentious Bill, above all, is the move towards privatisation of power distribution across the country – already underway in a few states and union territories.
The NCCOEEE has also given a nationwide call to boycott work on August 10 in protest against the same.
On Friday, the protesting electricity employees were addressed by Elamaram Kareem, Rajya Sabha MP from Kerala, a day after the Kerala Assembly passed a unanimous resolution demanding that the Centre withdraw the Bill.
According to The Hindu, the resolution presented by Minister for Electricity K. Krishnankutty and passed by the ruling LDF and Opposition UDF members noted that the proposed amendments would render cost-effective electricity inaccessible to farmers and weaker sections of society.
According to the NCCOEEE's statement issued on Friday, Kareem assured them that the Kerala Government would “support” the struggle of power sector employees against the proposed amendment.